Actor LeVar Burton was "flattered" by a fan petition calling for him to replace the late Alex Trebek as the next Jeopardy! host. The Star Trek: The Next Generation actor emerged as a favorite among fans, and more than 84,000 have signed a Change.org petition supporting his candidacy. Trebek died on Nov. 8 at 80, following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
On Thursday, Burton shared a link to the petition and thanked fans for their support. "Even if nothing comes from it, I can’t tell how much how I appreciate all y’alls love and support," the Reading Rainbow host wrote. A few hours later, Burton sent his condolences to Trebek's family. "Of course while I’m very flattered by the petition, my thoughts are definitely with Alex [Trebek's] family and his millions of fans and the devastating loss of this irreplaceable legend," Burton wrote, adding the hashtag "Love Live Alex."
Burton has "inspired and shaped the minds of several generations of trivia-loving nerds," the petition reads. "This petition is to show Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and producers Mike Richards and Harry Friedman just how much love the public has for Burton, and how much we'd all love to see him as the next host of Jeopardy!"
Jeopardy! producers have not named Trebek's successor, and viewers will continue seeing new episodes of the game show with him as host. Trebek filmed new shows up until 10 days before his death. Sony, which produces the series, said the final episode with Trebek will air on Christmas Day. Executive producer Mike Richards filmed a special introduction for the Nov. 9 episode, calling Trebek's death an "enormous loss for our staff and crew, for his family and for his millions of fans."
During interviews in the last years of his life, Trebek often joked about Betty White replacing him. In a July 2018 interview with TMZ's Harvey Levin though, he seriously suggested Los Angeles Kings play-by-play announcer Alex Faust and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates. As for Burton, he joked in 2018 that he wanted to host Jeopardy! if Trebek retired in 2020. Trebek did not though, and he signed a contract extension through 2022 before his death.
Burton, 63, is best known for playing Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and four Star Trek movies. His breakthrough role came as the young Kunda Kinte in Roots, a role that earned him an Emmy nomination. He is also beloved by generations as the host of PBS' Reading Rainbow, a series developed to encourage young children to read.